Pianist Andras Schiff joins with Budapest Festival Orchestra in Bartok/Stravinsky
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff will be the featured
soloist when the Budapest Festival Orchestra presents a concert of music
by Bartok and Stravinsky at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26 in Hancher Auditorium
on the University of Iowa campus.
Under the direction of founding conductor Ivan Fischer, the orchestra
will perform two of Igor Stravinsky's famous ballet scores, the 1919 version
of the "Firebird Suite" and "Jeu de cartes." Schiff
will be featured in performances of Bartok's second and third piano concertos,
which he performed on acclaimed 1996 recordings with the Budapest Festival
Orchestra on the Teldec label.
Schiff, a native of Budapest, is Hungary's best known classical pianist,
recognized worldwide for his thoughtful and inspired interpretations of
Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Bartok. He was the New York Philharmonic's
Artist-in-Residence for the 1997-98 season.
A two-time Grammy Award winner, Schiff has also won England's Gramophone
Award, Italy's Premio Abbiati, the 1991 Bartok Prize, "Instrumentalist
of the Year" in the International Classical Music Awards, and the
inaugural Claudio Arrau Memorial Medal from the Robert Schumann Society.
In 1996 he was honored with Hungary's highest distinction, the Kossuth
Prize. Schiff's discography now totals nearly 75 releases.
The New Yorker has described Schiff as "the ideal pianist -- warm,
witty and cultivated, subtle and detailed but never affected."
The Budapest Festival Orchestra was founded in 1983 by conductor Ivan
Fischer and pianist Zoltan Kocsis (who performed with the Warsaw Philharmonic
in a 1990 Hancher concert), and it has become the city's leading classical-music
institution in demand to play at the world's leading music festivals and
in major concert venues.
"I knew what I had to do," Fischer says. "I broke with
the great orchestras and I came home, my vision was to create the great
Hungarian orchestra -- on top of the world, in demand everywhere."
One of the orchestra's goals when it signed an exclusive recording contract
with Philips Classics in 1995 was to record the complete orchestral works
of Bartok, and its set of the complete Bartok piano concertos with Schiff
was a substantial step toward that goal.
Schiff told the British journal Gramophone: "When you hear a Bartok
concerto it is immediately gripping and accessible." But, he says,
the experience is more challenging for the pianist. "These are unbelievably
demanding concertos, physically, technically, instrumentally . . . Honestly,
there's probably no more difficult work in the whole piano literature to
play than the Bartok Second Piano Concerto."
The Stravinsky ballet scores on the concert are two of the most colorful
works in the orchestral repertoire. Along with "Petrushka" and
"The Rite of Spring," "Firebird" was one of the ballet
scores that collectively transformed both orchestral music and ballet in
the early 20th century and marked Stravinsky as one of the century's creative
The playful "Jeu de cartes" comes from a much later period
of his career, and yet it conveys an atmosphere of childlike fantasy and
humor. It was written in 1936 for choreography by Georges Balanchine.
The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is the corporate sponsor of
this event through the University of Iowa Foundation.
Tickets for the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Andras Schiff are $38,
$36 and $33. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount,
with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience
members 17 and younger are half price.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa,
dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is
toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged
to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases
to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option
of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services
should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office
personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair
access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is
equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr/
on the World Wide Web.